London is reeling after armed police scrambled to respond to two incidents that have been declared as acts of terrorism — with more than one person reported to have been killed and a number of left injured less than a week before the election. Police advised people to either run or hide in a place of safety, as they rushed to deal first with reports of a van hitting a number of people on London Bridge.
London is reeling after armed police scrambled to respond to two incidents that have been declared as acts of terrorism — with more than one person reported to have been killed and a number of left injured less than a week before the election.
Police advised people to either run or hide in a place of safety, as they rushed to deal first with reports of a van hitting a number of people on London Bridge.
Witnesses first reported seeing up to half-a-dozen people injured, before police confirmed shortly afterwards that they were responding to a second incident in Borough Market. A third reported incident in Vauxhall was later confirmed to be unrelated.
Armed police and emergency vehicles were dispatched to the scenes of the two closely situated incidents, which happened sometime after 10pm, as the capital was full of people enjoying themselves.
The Metropolitan Police meanwhile said in a tweet: “Please remain calm, but be alert & vigilant. We are using all necessary skills & resources at #LondonBridge #BoroughMarket #Vauxhall.”
Prime Minister Theresa May released a statement shortly after the incidents, saying: “Following updates from police and security officials, I can confirm that the terrible incident in London is being treated as a potential act of terrorism.
“This is a fast moving investigation. I want to express my huge gratitude to the police and emergency services who are on the scene. Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events.”
Ms May is expected to chair an emergency security meeting on Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn published a statement reading: “Brutal and shocking incidents reported in London. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Thank you to the emergency services.”
The drama that rocked the nation’s capital came just days before the country is due to hold its General Election on 8 June, and less than two weeks before a homemade bomb was detonated at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by Ariana Grande.
In the aftermath of that incident, which killed 23 adults and children, there were some suggestions that the election should be postponed. In what was widely seen as a determination that life should carry on as normally as possible, a decision was taken for election to proceed.
British Transport Police said there are reports of “multiple” casualties following the incidents .
London Ambulance Service said in a statement that it had sent a number of ambulance crews, advanced paramedics and specialist response team” to the scene at London Bridge to “ensure that those people in most need are treated first and taken to hospital.”
“We are working closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to get people to safety and ensure they receive the medical help they need as quickly as possible,” the statement read.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries, and ensure that those people in most need are treated first and taken to hospital.“
A police officer at the scene of the incident on London Bridge, who sounded in an emotional state, told people near the area: “It’s not a laughing matter. It’s not something to be recorded, people have died.”
The force confirmed that armed officers had responded to the incident at Borough Market. Cell phone video posted on social media showed police entering a bar and ordered people on to the floor.
“Get down, get down,” the officers could be heard to saying.
Transport for London (TfL) said the bridge has been closed in both directions “at the request of police” due to a “major police incident”.
Bus routes were being diverted and the neighbouring Southwark Bridge has also been shut, it added.
BBC reporter Holly Jones, who was on the bridge at the time of the incident, said the van was driven by a man and was “probably travelling at about 50 miles an hour”.
“I’d say there are about four severely injured people. They all have paramedics assisting them at the moment.”
She added that a French woman was among the injured and who told her she did not know where the two people who had been with her were.
She later reported seeing a man being arrested by police. She said he was handcuffed and had his shirt off.
Another witness, Spectator journalist Will Heaven, tweeted: “It seemed south side of London Bridge epicentre of what seems a terrorist attack. We have been escorted by police from bridge.
“What I saw: injured pedestrians, first responders, armed police, people running north.”
Deputy editor of the Sunday Times, Sarah Baxter, tweeted that reporters for the newspaper witnessed “several pedestrians mown down as van weaved across road.”
Anyone living in cordoned off areas near London Bridge are being told by police to find somewhere else to stay for the night.